Relentlessly marketed, inexpensively produced, and patently offensive, “Black Devil Doll” is a very special movie that does for feminism what the civil rights movement did for puppets.
Studio: Lowest Common Denominator
Director: John Lewis
Cast: Heather Murphy, Natasha Talonz, Precious Cox, Erika Branich, Christina Svendesn, Martin Boone
I first wrote about “Black Devil Doll” about 35 years ago when the relentlessly marketed neo-blaxploitation flick was but a trailer. Now that it has escaped an All White Jury and been released in its full glory, I’m here to say that “Black Devil Doll” is a very special film that offers only happiness.
Re-animated in puppet form the moment of his state-sponsored electrocution, Cracker bitch fucking/murdering Mubia Abul-Jama (yes, I know) falls in love with sassy Heather Honeydew Boone.
But their post-mortem honeymoon can’t last. “I’m a man, bitch,” says Black Devil Doll. “I need to get into some Strange.”
Heather goes off to McDonald’s after inviting her four sassy girlfriends over. Mubia deals with each according to his needs.
Mubia’s joy in doing what he does and the game giddiness with which each of the cast members plays her part in this perfect period piece made me wish I was 14 and watching this Russ Meyer-meets-Tom Savini intimate ass-and-splatter epic for the first time.
Porn parodists can learn a lot from this movie. It was made on a small budget with a limited cast, yet there is a clear story and an actual ending (sort of). In the meantime it is the most deliciously scatalogical, violent, misogynist, racist, and titillating movie you will see this year or, probably, ever.
What might Andrea Dworkin or Ossie Davis have to say about this movie? One shudders to think. It’s hard to encourage someone not inclined to do so to take something like this in a spirit of fun. But “Black Devil Doll” is silly above all things, and it was a muthafuckin’ joy to watch, bitch.
We talked with “Black Devil Doll” writer/producer Shawn Lewis about the financial and spiritual costs of the millenium’s best puppetsploitation film.
Gram Ponante: The same names keep appearing in the credits. Obviously this small, special film is a labor of love, but describe how you know the rest of the production team.
Shawn Lewis: We’re all old friends and have known each other for years. For obvious reasons, (Director) Jonathan Lewis is my youngest brother. (Director of Photography John) Osteen, (Puppetmaster Mitch) Mayes and myself became friends years ago, brought together by our shared love of fucked up movies. And simply due to the fact that we made “Black Devil Doll” on such a small budget, we each had to take on several roles in the production. Everyone was wearing many, many hats.
Shawn Lewis: It’s not a remake of “Black Devil Doll from Hell”. Sure it shares a similar title and the puppet is black, but that’s pretty much where it ends. I was a fan of “BDDFH” and you could easily call it an homage, but that’s about it. It’s no more a remake of “BDDFH” than “Return of the Living Dead” is a remake of “Night of the Living Dead.”
Gram Ponante: What was your budget in dollars? What was your budget in time?
Shawn Lewis: I guess around 10 grand in cash. Most of which was to compensate the talent for their time, none of the crew was getting paid. Time-wise is a little more tricky. The movie itself was shot over 33 days, but it was spread out over about 8 months. Lot’s of half days. We all have regular jobs, so there were hardly more than a few stretches where anyone could work full-time, a few days in a row. From day one to the premier at the New Beverly in Hollywood, it was almost 2 years to the day. The editing process took a very long time.
Gram Ponante: Who has day jobs and what do you guys do?
Shawn Lewis: I own and operate Rotten Cotton (www.rottencotton.com), Jonathan is a full-time film student in Los Angeles, Osteen is a freelance editor and motion graphics artist, and Mayes runs production for me at Rotten Cotton. Him and Osteen are also two of the creeps behind the “Brawlin’ Broads!” DVD series (www.brawlinbroads.com).
Gram Ponante: Speak for the group and describe your influences. For example, when the group of you got together to start work, which of your idols did you want to please with it?
Shawn Lewis: John Waters and Rev. Al Sharpton. And through the grapevine we’ve heard that at least one of them is pretty pleased about the movie.
Shawn Lewis: Antioch is a soulless town where dreams come to die. You really can’t imagine a more bland, lower middle class suburban wasteland, chock full of dullards. And for that reason alone, it was the only place “Black Devil Doll” could have been shot.
Gram Ponante: How did a girl like that get a name like “Heather Murphy”?
Shawn Lewis: From what I understand, a Mexican girl and an Irish guy had sex.
Gram Ponante: Obviously the girls were all game and they were great fun. But how do you prepare someone who may never have seen a 70’s-style exploitation flick for the attitude required?
Shawn Lewis: I think most of them had. Or at least Heather and Natasha were pretty schooled in old exploitation flicks. They’re both big genre film fans. The rest of the girls just had great, positive attitudes about being in the movie in general. We worked our fuckin’ asses off on set, but we still managed to maintain a fun vibe. Everyone had a pretty great working chemistry together. Osteen and my brother bickered constantly, but that was just pure entertainment for the rest of us.
Gram Ponante: What did you use for Mubia’s semen?
Shawn Lewis: We all just did a circle jerk the night before, into a bowl.
Gram Ponante: I’m disinclined to believe you, but if what you say about the East Bay is true … What kind of reaction did you get from the wigger community?
Shawn Lewis: We’ve yet to hear any official statement. But you know what’s great about really stupid people? They never really seem to understand when they’re the butt of a joke.
Gram Ponante: Any reaction from actual black people?
Shawn Lewis: Our director is pretty offended by the whole thing. Just kidding, of course. No, not at all. Unless you count Rev. Al as being black, we don’t. He’s not about color, he’s about getting attention. The only people so far to voice any bullshit about being offended is uptight “liberal” white guys. They are the self-appointed protector of the fragile black man.
Gram Ponante: Where does the movie go from here and how are you planning to make your money back?
Shawn Lewis: Is this a trick question? Through sales! We have a great distribution deal through Grindhouse/Ryko in North America and another overseas deal that puts us into several European and Asian markets. And we hope that people continue to buy all the cool merch that we have to offer at www.blackdevildoll.com. Help support our drug habits, buy our shit!
Shawn Lewis: The sequel seems the obvious next move, I guess. People sure seem to want it. That’s probably what’s going to happen next, we have some great ideas for it. Right now we just want the dust to settle from this release, then regroup and figure out the next move. No lack of fucked-up ideas on our team, it’s just more a matter of coordinating everyones time.
Gram Ponante: There are parts of this movie that didn’t work for me, and I realize that that was because the parts that did were so effective that everything else got pushed to the side. For example, while I appreciated White T (“My HEART!” is one of my favorite lines), I felt that the movie was most effective when everything was inside the house. That said, your casting was great, and the women were skanked up in a way that really made me think of grindhouse movies. Can you tell me a little about your casting? Were there people who showed up that were too skanky or too glamorous to fit the requirements?
Shawn Lewis: I guess that means 98% of the movie was effective for you, since it was almost all inside the house. Glad to hear it. The casting actually went pretty smooth. Heather’s part was basically written with her already in mind, same with Natasha and Martin. They were already friends of ours, so that part was easy. Precious, Christine and Erika were friends of Natasha’s, so that was pretty simple as well. We had one girl show up to read that we thought was going to commit, but she politely excused herself from the project after getting about five pages into the script. And we were totally cool with that. It takes a certain personality and attitude to get killed and raped by a puppet on camera. Better to change your mind before we push “PLAY” on the camera, than to have her bail in the middle of production. Our main requirements for the talent was for them to be reliable, have a good attitude, and look good while washing a car and playing Twister. It didn’t really call for acting chops, but they all still came in and kicked serious ass.
Gram Ponante: How did you channel Mubia?
Shawn Lewis: Malt Liquor, Hennessy and lots of weed. Lots of weed.
- Buy “Black Devil Doll” here
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: El Negro and the damage done; Sucking cocks in Hell – porn stars discuss their favorite horror movies
See also: Black Devil Doll.com